It is simultaneously fun and repulsive reading the hysterical reactions to the LibDem surge. I haven’t even turned on my Bloglines account to read Guido, Dale, CoffeeHouse et al. My better-edited reaction will be online with a newspaper in a few hours; the theme is how the Tory reaction reveals their nauseating sense of entitlement to power.
The backlash will come in various forms. I can’t make much sense of Hopi, with his premonitions of the forces of hell. Hopi, simple truth from someone far less experienced than you and therefore not at all entitled to giving simple truths: hell is being ignored; getting 5% of the media coverage when you get 20% of the vote.
[My best guess for what has happened post debate is NOT that the world learned how Nick is an orator that combines the best of Cicero, Nye Bevan and Withnail . All that has happened is that he has had exposure, and people who don’t normally ever think about politics, people who might have slept-walked into the idea that the only way of saying NO to the Labour party is giving a grudging uncomfortable Yes to the Tories, have learned otherwise. A cat out of the bag moment; once un-ignored, hard to ignore again quickly.
This effect works within the LD’s too; it is much easier to put up a poster or knock on the door when feeling a gust of pride in your leader.]
On with the reaction. People are beginning to notice the perverse seatwise consequence of some polls:
Translating a 32/31/28 share of the vote into seats suggests the effect in the next House of Commons would be the exact reverse of the way people voted. Labour would come out as the largest party, with 277 seats, 49 short of an overall majority. The Tories come second on 226 and the Lib Dems get half that on 118. No doubt Lib Dems will say this simply exemplifies their arguments that the voting system is unfair. But any second the Tories will start shouting that a vote for the Lib Dems will put Gordon Brown back in Number 10.
The risk identified by Sam Coates here is a very real one.
Two pieces of excellent Big Society scepticism. Bagehot:
the Tories’ revamped communitarianism has weaknesses too. The most obvious is that it elides two phenomena that may prove unconnected: a consumerist desire for ever-improving public services, and people’s willingness actually to do something to improve them. Are community groups really going to spring up to, say (the Tories do), manage local libraries? It is doubtful whether the incentives Mr Cameron is offering are strong enough to galvanise them. Indeed, his party’s faith in an imminent frenzy of civic activism rather contradicts another of its mantras—that British society is “broken”
Cameron badly wants to win the election, and a big idea, however tainted its source, however underexamined and ill-thought-out, is a useful thing to brandish at the electorate, especially if it provides a cloak of nobility and ‘ethos’ for the old Conservative ambition to take a cleaver and sunder the connection between the words ‘welfare’ and ‘state’. Stripped of its obscurantist rhetoric and foggy sermonising, Red Tory issues a moral licence to government to free itself from the expensive business of dispensing social services and to dump them on the ‘third sector’ of charities, voluntary organisations, non-profits and the like. It won’t make Britain a more virtuous, civil, courteous or moral society. It certainly won’t restore us to that happy state of grace and comity in which, apparently, we all lived in medieval times.
Is this why the Big S has gone missing?
Camilla Cavendish takes what is sounding like a tired line already: Hung Parliament Chaos. This is so arrogantly anti-democratic that it is hard to know what to say. Britain has not enjoyed a majority of sentiment behind one party for a while – I would argue that early Blair enjoyed it. So for reasons of executive single-mindedness are we to be punished with total power in the hands of those with a third of the mandate?
1970s comparisons, as are inevitably trotted out, are very far from relevant. The problems there were as much with the horsetrading within a dysfunctional Labour party, as with the Liberals. Read Cairncross &Burke.
I agree with her that there are holes in the LIb Dem plans, as there are with all. I don’t think the Euro looks like a good idea now, and it would be good if Nick pointed out this pragmatic truth.
Martin Ivens has similar problems with Lib Dem plans
What is left of a detoxified Tory party that is so proud of this approach to crime?